A Rio Texas Update on Hurricane Harvey

Missional OutreachAround the Conference, Disaster Relief, Volunteers in Mission (VIM)

Woodboro house roof being repairedBy VICKI McCUISTION
Rio Texas Conference Disaster Recovery Asset Manager

Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 hurricane, first struck the Texas Gulf Coast on the evening of Aug. 25, 2017. After coming ashore, the hurricane stalled and remained a category 3 hurricane for 5 days before exiting back out into the Gulf of Mexico. Fourteen counties in the Rio Texas Conference were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Primary damage of the service area was due to wind. Many structures were completely destroyed while many more lost roofs in the initial storm or were damaged by falling limbs and trees. The initial impact was bad enough, but the following 5 days of rain exacerbated the situation with extensive water damage to homes.

The Rio Texas Conference has never experienced a disaster of this magnitude impacting homes across two districts and damaging 44 churches. At the same time, our country experienced multiple back-to-back disasters stretching nonprofit, faith, state and federal resources beyond capacity.

UMVIM Trainings

UMVIMIf you are planning to be a part of Hurricane Harvey recovery, please note that the Rio Texas Conference requires that all participants (youth and adult) receive UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteer in Mission) training or at least that one trip leader receives this training. The UMVIM training aims to ensure that mission teams do not inadvertently “help” in ways that hurt and nurtures attitudes of respect and true partnership with the people and communities who are served.

Every VIM training session costs $12 per person and will be held on a Saturday from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. at the North Texas Conference Center. Follow the links below to register:

March 3, 2018: https://mar3umvimanderttraining.eventbrite.com
April 21, 2018: https://apr21umvimtraining.eventbrite.com
May 12, 2018: https://may12umvimtraining.eventbrite.com

Contact Rev. Andrew Fiser at fiser@ntcumc.org or 972-526-5018 for more information or to arrange trainings on other dates or locations for your congregation.

Amidst the turmoil, Methodists stepped forward: sending supplies, financial donations, and ERT teams responding from across the country to meet the needs of mucking and gutting, tarping roofs, removing fallen trees, and more.

While the response phase was underway, the Rio Texas Conference Disaster Response began building the infrastructure for the rebuilding and recovery that will take about three to five years to complete. We established volunteer villages in Victoria and Sinton to support the Crossroads and Coastal Bend areas. We began hiring and training case management staff in November and have opened case management offices in Victoria and Aransas Pass. We have hired construction supervisors and are actively seeking construction project managers to provide support and direction to volunteer teams on job sites. In December, we launched a stand-alone website, www.riotexasresponse.org, to help communicate our efforts to survivors and volunteers. Volunteer team leaders can register their interest in sending teams, learn about housing, download forms, and share their stories after their service!
Woodsboro house roof completed
We are partnering with established long-term recovery groups to support their efforts, identify needs, and fund rebuilding and recovery needs identified through case management. Our case management offices, in partnership with our volunteer and construction supervision, will also be responding to areas not served by a long-term recovery group.

We are working hard to identify the underserved and vulnerable clients impacted by Hurricane Harvey. These families and individuals are struggling with many emotions: frustration, exhaustion, confusion, and grateful for someone willing to help navigate the complicated process. From their perspective and ours, nothing feels like it is moving quickly enough. VIM teams began arriving the day after Christmas to replace roofs and install drywall in Columbus, Woodsboro, and Rockport. To be honest, we weren’t quite ready, but grace was with us and miracles happened for several homeowners! This is a learning process for all of us and each new day brings good progress in recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

The Rio Texas Conference Disaster Recovery is committed to being in these communities until the rebuilding is complete. The volunteer and financial support provided by the North Texas Conference will be vital as we work to manage the limited resources for rebuilding efforts. This long journey of rebuilding cannot be done by any of us alone, but requires all United Methodists working together through the connection. What a blessing to be in ministry with each of you and the families who need us!

Updated Relief Efforts for Hurricane Harvey